The Ministry of Education announced on Wednesday that our province will be moving to modified Stage 2 of B.C.’s Education Restart Plan, and safely bringing K-12 students back to class full time for September 2020. A link to the ministry news release on this plan is here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020EDUC0040-001415. You can also watch Wednesday’s press conference with Minister of Education Rob Fleming and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoqjWBNMBSE.
Modified Stage 2 involves the full return to in-class instruction for all students for the maximum time possible within learning group limits. Therefore, following the advice of the provincial health officer, in Stage 2, students in our school district will be organized into consistent learning groups of staff and students. Learning group size limits have been set at a maximum of 60 people for elementary schools and a maximum of 120 people for secondary schools. These learning groups will help reduce the risk of transmission, enable quick contact tracing, and allow for more in-class learning time as well as increased peer interaction and support.
For your information, a learning group will consist of a group of students and staff who primarily interact with each other and who will remain together throughout the school quarter, semester, or year. The group can be made up of a single class of students, multiple classes that sometimes join together for additional learning activities, or a group of secondary school students with the same courses. Additional information about learning groups is available on the Ministry of Education website.
School districts will also continue to follow enhanced health and safety measures following the guidelines developed by the BC Centre for Disease Control and the BC Ministry of Health, and outlined in the updated COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 School Settings manual. These measures include enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures, more individual and smaller group activities, and limitations on assemblies and other large gatherings.
Finally, student transportation will be available in Stage 2, with the wearing of masks on the bus as an anticipated requirement. Updated information regarding student bussing will be posted to the district student transportation page at https://www.sd42.ca/student-transportation/ by or before August 26,2020.
The Ministry of Education will be developing additional operational guidelines over the coming weeks to further assist school districts with their planning for September. I will provide you with all updates as soon as they become available.
Our school district will be reviewing the revised health and safety guidelines and making detailed plans for their implementation. I will provide you with an update on how our school district is implementing these guidelines, organizing learning groups, and establishing bell schedules as soon as our plans have been finalized. We will be submitting our plans and final details to the ministry and posting them to the school district website by August 26, 2020.
As I am sure that you can appreciate, the organization of our secondary schools around learning groups of 120 students and staff is a complex task, and it will involve some significant changes to how we usually organize secondary timetables. We are working on these organizational changes now. At the elementary school level, the organization of learning groups of 60 students and staff is, thankfully, not as complicated to implement.
We ask for your patience as we consult with our partner group leaders and put our plans into place.
COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 School Settings (Updated July 29, 2020)